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was born 30 December 1936 in the village of Ewouta in the southern coastal Fernan-Vaz region of Gabon, to Anina Germaine, a member of the coastal Nkomi ethnic community. Agondjo-Okawé only met his biological father when he was fourteen years old. His mother, Anina, originally came from the nearby town of Kongo, but had difficulties with having children and turned to an herbalist in Ewouta for help. She later divorced Agondjo-Okawé’s biological father and married Charles Ping, a Chinese immigrant living in Fernan-Vaz. Their son, Agondjo-Okawé’s half-brother, Jean Ping went on to become a major figure in Gabonese politics.

In 1946 Agondjo Okawé s uncle Jean Remy Ayouné decided to have him study at the Roman Catholic mission school of Sainte Anne de Fernan Vaz It was around this time that the young boy witnessed an African colonial guard assault a woman in his village Disgusted Agondjo Okawé learned ...

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Robert Fikes

mayor and educator, was born in rural Livingston, Alabama, to Richard Arrington Sr. and Ernestine Bell, sharecroppers. In 1940, when his father found work in a steel mill, the family moved to Fairfield, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. At Fairfield Industrial High School, Arrington took an interest in the study of history and also learned dry cleaning, a practical skill that he later used to finance his college education. In 1952, during his sophomore year at Miles College in Birmingham, he married his high school sweetheart, the former Barbara Jean Watts. Two influential professors persuaded him to major in biology, and he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1955. He went on to earn his master's degree in Biology in 1957 at the University of Detroit and in 1966 completed his PhD dissertation Comparative Morphology of Some Dryopoid Beetles at the University of Oklahoma ...

Article

Wayne Dawkins

mayor of New York City from 1990 to 1994. David Norman Dinkins was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of William Dinkins, a factory worker and barber, and Sally Dinkins. When his parents separated, six-year-old David moved to Harlem with his mother, but he returned to Trenton at age fourteen to live with his father. During World War II, Dinkins served in the Marine Corps. After the war he enrolled at Howard University, where he majored in math and graduated in 1950. Dinkins married Joyce Burrows in 1953. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1956.

Dinkins became active in a political club and was mentored by J. Raymond “Harlem Fox” Jones. Dinkins was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1965 and served one term. In 1972 he was elected the first black president of the city Board of ...

Article

Richard Saunders

educational administrator and the first black mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, was born in Memphis to Willie Witherspoon Herenton and Ruby Lee Harris. His parents separated, and he was raised in a single-parent family. As a youth, Herenton had aspirations to being a boxer and took the Kentucky Golden Gloves, several southern AAU championships, and four Tri-State Boxing Championships in his class (flyweight) by the time he graduated from high school in 1958. He turned down a boxing scholarship to the University of Wisconsin and moved to Chicago briefly to pursue the sport professionally and then decided education offered greater stability and opportunities. He returned to Memphis and completed a college degree at LeMoyne-Owen College in 1963. There he met and married Ida Jones, with whom he had three children. They divorced in 1988. He fathered a fourth child in 2004.

Herenton began a career ...

Article

Wesley Borucki

attorney, former mayor, Howard Law School dean. Kurt L. Schmoke was born into a middle-class professional family in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Murray Schmoke, was a civilian chemist for the U.S. Army, and his mother, Irene Schmoke, was a social worker. Schmoke attended Baltimore's premier public high school, Baltimore City College, where he quarterbacked the varsity football team to two state championships. The judge Robert Hammerman mentored him in the Lancers Club, an organization of prominent Baltimore professionals that prepared young men for political careers. Schmoke entered Yale University in 1967 Yale s administration was trying to invite more minority students and Schmoke has acknowledged that he benefited from affirmative action Schmoke was clearly qualified however he showed his eloquence political acumen and leadership when he deferentially convinced the faculty to suspend university operations when violent protests threatened the campus during the murder trial of ...

Article

Carlton Elliott Smith

mayor, was born in Fayette County, Tennessee, to Eddie Lee Smith Sr., a farmer, and Lucy Sales Smith, a homemaker. He was educated in rural schools for black children. In the early 1930s his parents moved the family to Marshall County in northwest Mississippi, eventually settling on eleven acres that became part of the town of Holly Springs. The Smiths were founding members of the town's black Pentecostal church, now known as Christ Temple, and they instilled in their twelve children, including Eddie Jr., a sense of personal piety and pride.

Smith attended high school in Holly Springs at Rust College in the 1950s and he also served in a medical unit when he enlisted as a conscientious objector during the Korean War When he returned for undergraduate classes at Rust College he was deeply impressed by the distinguished black men he saw running the campus ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

the son of Aiken and Jane Bruce Williams. His year of birth has occasionally been recorded as 1861 or 1862.

Although various private genealogies identify his parents as being from markedly different family trees, some traced to South Carolina, an address left by Williams in the records of Yale University after graduation matches an 1880 census entry for Aiken and Jane Williams, both born in Georgia, as were their parents. Aiken Williams’s parents were George and Lucretia Williams, living in the same household at that time. Aiken Williams worked all his life as a teamster, and Jane Williams taught school. Although Williams’s Yale classmates believed his father had died before he went to college, census records show both his parents living into the early twentieth century. He had one sister, Lucretia, named for her paternal grandmother, about whom little else is known.

Historian Leroy Davis has identified Williams as ...

Article

Cyril Daddieh

Ivorian teacher, trade unionist, war veteran, deputy, mayor, spiritual leader, senator, cabinet minister, and wealthy planter/businessman, was born on 23 January 1920 in Jacqueville, not far from Abidjan. His father had served as a customs official in Abidjan. He attended primary school in Grand Bassam and then the École Normale Supérieur William Ponty in Senegal from 1937 to 1940. He taught for two years before joining the French war effort in 1942. He was deployed in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery. After his military service in the French army ended in 1946 he returned home to teach in Aboisso As an ethnic Alladian Yacé was widely recognized as the spiritual leader as well as the titular political representative of the 3A Alladian Aïzi Akouri located in the area around Abidjan between the lagoon and the sea Yet teachers ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

Ethiopian intellectual, administrator, scholar, dejazmach, and statesman, was born in 1928 to a family embodying the Tigreans’ pride and their frustrated aspirations for leadership in the empire. His father, Dejazmach (literally commander of the right wing, a general and regional administrator, a rank beneath that of ras) Gabre-Sellassie Baria-Gebr played important roles in Tigrean and imperial politics and married Walata Esrael Seyum, great-granddaughter of emperor Yohannes IV (r. 1872–1889), the last Tigrean ruler of Ethiopia (prior to 1991). In 1930 Gabre Sellassie died and two years later Emperor Haile Selassie working to ensure Tigre s loyalty to his Amhara centered regime arranged for marriages between his family and the Tigrean nobility The emperor s eldest son and proclaimed heir Meredazmach Asfa Wossen married Wallata Esrael and four year old Zewde a direct descendant of the Tigrean emperor Yohannes thus became the step grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie Raised ...